Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Historic Wednesday - Jenny (or Ginnie) Wade's headstone, Evergreen Cemetery - Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

After taking this photo, I found out from a National Park Service employee at nearby Gettysburg National Cemetery that Abraham Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address very close to the location where Wade would be eventually buried.

Mary Virginia "Ginnie"(or "Jennie") Wade (May 21, 1843 – July 3, 1863), a seamstress, was the only Gettysburg civilian killed directly during the Battle of Gettysburg. The house where she was killed is a popular tourist attraction and museum called the "Jennie Wade House", in Gettysburg.

Ginnie was born in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She worked as a seamstress with her mother in their house on Breckenridge Street while her father was in a mental asylum. She may have been engaged to Johnston Hastings "Jack" Skelly, a corporal in the 87th Pennsylvania, who had been wounded two weeks earlier in the Battle of Winchester. He died from his injuries on July 12, 1863, unaware that Ginnie had died before he did.

Ginnie, her mother, and two younger brothers left their home in central Gettysburg and traveled to the house of her sister Georgia Anna Wade McClellan at 528 Baltimore Street to assist her and her newborn child. It was July 1, 1863, during the first day's fighting of the Battle of Gettysburg. More than 150 bullets hit the McClellan house during the fighting.

About 8:30 a.m. on July 3, Ginnie was kneading dough for bread when a Minié ball traveled through the kitchen door of her house and hit her. It pierced her left shoulder blade, went through her heart, and ended up in her corset. She was killed instantly. Shortly afterward, three Union soldiers discovered the body and told the rest of the family. They temporarily buried Ginnie's body in the back yard of the McClellan house, in a coffin originally intended for a Confederate officer. In January 1864, her body was relocated to the cemetery of the German Reformed Church on Stratton Street.

In November 1865, Ginnie Wade's remains were reburied in the Evergreen Cemetery near Jack Skelly. A monument was erected in 1900 that includes an American flag that flies around the clock.
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